Decolonisation is a broad and contested term and can mean different things in different contexts. A particular focus in UK higher education is the curriculum and the need to challenge dominant structures and assumptions - along with including a wider range of ideas and experiences. The Library has an important role in supporting the curriculum and in supporting wider reading and research. But it also needs to look critically at its own structures, resources and services and consider what changes are needed there.
Prompted by early student and staff decolonisation initiatives at UEA and the challenges voiced by Black Lives Matter, the Library formed an Anti-racism group in 2021, with staff drawn from all parts of the Library. This group is looking at how UEA Library might take forward decolonisation and practically meet its strategic goals of Championing Equality and Diversity and Embedding Inclusive Practices (Interim Library Strategy 2023).
We want to ensure that our building and services “reflect respect and equality of treatment for all and continue to celebrate cultural diversity” and “place inclusivity at the heart of all our services, physical and online, to enhance our welcome to all.” We recognise that there are critical and collaborative dimensions to this and we will need to “undertake proactive initiatives to tackle racism and engage with underrepresented groups” (quotes from Library strategy).
Our work in this area is informed by discussions with staff and students at UEA and work being done in other libraries and is in the spirit of critical librarianship, which challenges the notion that libraries have unbiased collections and neutral spaces. This is ongoing work and we want you to be involved!
Library Podcast on Decolonisation
Listen to Rachel and Grant talking about decolonisation and why it is important for libraries to take part.
Expanding and promoting the Library's resources
Supporting student and staff initiatives
Looking critically and library structures and practices
Working with others within and beyond UEA
If you would like to be involved or have other ideas of things the Library might do, please contact us.
Your input is key in our journey to decolonise the library. We are working with several groups in the University to take forward our decolonisation work, but there are two ways you can immediately and directly help us with this process:
Let us know what you like and what we need to change and improve
Tell us about books and resources you would like us to buy or better promote
Please let us know about other groups and initiatives we should add here.